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Interim Budget: Not something new in India


The Interim Budget, which Finance Minister Piyush Goyal presented in the Lok Sabha on Friday, is not something new in India's parliamentary governance. Goyal, who got the charge of Finance Ministry only recently after Union Minister Arun Jaitley went to the US for his treatment, also takes care of Railways, Power, Corporate Affairs, and Coal ministries.

In 1948, then Finance Minister R K Shanmukham Chetty had presented a vote-on-account, also called the Interim Budget, which was followed by Independent India's first full-fledged Budget. R Venkataraman and Pranab Mukherjee, who went to become President of India, too presented the Interim Budgets as the country's Finance Ministers.

Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has the distinction of presenting two Interim Budgets, first for Chandrashekhar led government in 1991 and thereafter in 1998 when then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA was in power at the Centre.

Jaswant Singh, a BJP veteran from Rajasthan, also presented the Interim Budget on February 3, 2004, as the Finance Minister in then NDA government led by Vajpayee.

Bharat Ratna and former President Pranab Mukherjee presented the interim Budget in the Lok Sabha in 2008-09 at the end of the first term of the UPA government led by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

On February 17, 2014, then Finance Minister P Chidambaram presented the Interim Budget, which he started as saying "As I prepared to write this speech, I found that whether it is a regular Budget for the full year or an interim Budget, some things remain the same."

However, Chidambaram's Interim Budget had led to a kind of political war of words with the principal opposition party-BJP-terming the financial exercise as a full-fledged budget.

Arun Jaitley had been Finance Minister since May 26, 2014 when NDA came to power at the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He could not present the Interim Budget for 2019-20 as he is not well.

However, in several landmark decisions last year, he combined the railway budget with the main budget. With a focus on the rural economy and farmers, Jaitley proposed a string of measures for the agriculture sector.

He also announced the ambitious National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) for over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families with coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year. It was described as the world's largest government-funded healthcare programme.

P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister from July 31, 2012 to May 26, 2014. He is remembered for slashing personal income tax rates that led to a surge in income tax collections.

He was also the first finance minister to include the proposal to move towards a unified goods and services tax in his budget speech in 2006.

However, the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) 1997 which he announced was condemned by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) because of the loopholes that made it possible to fudge data to the advantage of the confessor.

Manmohan Singh was the Finance Minister under late Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. He presided over a period of dramatic changes.

His 1991 budget introduced watershed reforms that liberalised India's economy and opened it up to global markets and investments. This set the country on a course of rapid growth.

Under the New Economic Policy of 1991 license raj system was abolished, many obstacles to foreign direct investments (FDI) were removed, and public sector companies were privatised.

Pranab Mukherjee first served as the Finance Minister in 1980s under late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He took the position once again in 2009 after serving as Defence Minister and then Minister for External Affairs under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Pranab's success as a Finance Minister was marked by the last loan payment of International Monetary Fund (IMF). He implemented several tax modifications such as the fringe benefits and commodities transaction tax. During Pranab's tenure, the fiscal deficit was also achieved the as per the annual target.

Pranab made the mid-day meal project possible before resigning from the position in 2012 after being selected as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's candidate for the Indian presidency. When he was the Finance Minister from 1982 to 1984, Euromoney magazine rated him as the best finance minister in the world.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 01 2019. 17:32 IST